“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money.
It is the customer who pays the wages.”
 – Henry Ford

For centuries successful business owners have understood the value in establishing long- term relationships with their customers. It’s much more efficient, profitable and smarter to keep an established paying customer, than to constantly work to acquire new customers.

In the business world this concept is often referred to as “customer retention.” So how do you make sure new customers turn into established customers? Here are a few key strategies:

Give them a solution – forget the sales pitch. Figure out how to help them find the answers that work best for their needs – not yours. Be a solutions generator. Let them know that you are always equipped with the latest research and ready to guide them to an answer.

Let the customer shine. When you talk to your customer, include sincere conversation about “their” world – their profession, their hobbies, and their loved ones. This allows the customer to engage and creates a relationship of trust that goes beyond the services you provide.

Commit to the complete customer experience. To do this, you must bring more to the job than simply your product or service (which is expected in your customers’ minds). Create an environment and a relationship in which your customer relies on your whole expertise–not just knowledge about the specific services that brought them to you in the first place.

Treat your customers like royalty. Many companies focus on advertising “new customer” incentives with extra perks and discounts but completely forget about the customer that’s been with them for years. It’s time to treat your customers – new and established – like they are your #1 focus. If you think about them, they will be more inclined to think about you.

It’s not the customer, it’s you. Just because your customer isn’t calling you does not mean that it is fine to lose touch with them. Never assume that a past customer doesn’t need your services once the initial job is complete. When is the last time that you called them? Investigate ways to “touch” these customers with something as simple as a thank you, a customer-loyalty percentage discount, or a simple phone call to say “hello.”

Don’t hide your head in the sand or run from unhappy customers.  Take the high road and seek them out. If you have heard or think that a customer isn’t happy with you or your services, be up front and talk to them about their experience. It doesn’t hurt to thank them (sincerely) for bringing this to your attention. It could be a simple case of a misunderstanding or a valuable learning experience for you. Managing conflict in this way often pays off with increased trust and a stronger customer relationship.

Follow these simple strategies to keep your customers happy and loyal for years to come!